The Aftermath of Culture

This past weekend was a flurry of activities. The most common complaint I heard was that there was so much to do! And there was. It was because of all the volunteers and the organizers at each location who put on a feast of activities which really highlighted the wealth the Westside has.

The Launch, where can I start? All the people who came to help set up the Launch were incredible, I don’t even know all their names, but from Peachland and West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation, they came and just got right to work. We were ahead of schedule by two hours! Our program started with jazz from Bjorn Kriel, from Mount Boucherie, then to Westbank First Nation dancers Candace Jack, Madison Jack and Kortney Alexander, performers who were a hit of the evening! The Peachland Variety Singers, Rachel Layne and Marty Edwards, wow you were all fabulous.

And to our MC Westbank First Nation Councillor Chris Derickson, you were the whole gamut of emotions, entertaining, funny, serious – thank you for agreeing to be our host for the formal program. The evening began with a beautiful prayer, drumming and singing led by Pat Raphael from The Westbank First Nation Youth Council and guests, and the Westbank First Nation welcome to the territory provided by Councillor Fernanda Alexander. Arlene Currie created a wealth of orange scarves for those who did not have orange shirts in order to show respect to and recognize Residential School Survivors. We were regaled with speeches from Dan Albas, our MP, West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater, and Councillor Mario Vucinovic from Peachland. At the end of the speeches, we were privileged and gifted in song by Delphine Derickson, and I had tears running down my face from her music it was so beautiful. At the end, everyone participated in Creating Dreams for our future!

My thanks go out to all who assisted in coordinating the Launch from Virginia Game in the Westbank First Nation’s Chief’s office to Bob Kusch, the City of West Kelowna Recreation and Culture Manager, to Tara Montgomery, Charlotte Armstrong and Dominique Alexis in the Okanagan Nation Alliance to Deb Livingstone President of the Peachland Community Arts Council. The En’owkin Centre was a hub of activities from the National Aboriginal Professional Artist Training Program and Theytus books coordinated by SWAC Directors Kailene Ramage, Pat Raphael, and Tracey Kim Bonneau from En’owkin. Sncǝwips Heritage Museum provided wonderful assistance through Coralee Miller and Jordan Coble. Nazanin Shoja from BC Culture Days in Vancouver, without whom none of the printed material and media would have materialized, and John Hudson and Doyle Potenteau from the Westside Weekly who went over the top to help with advertisement in the paper and supplied all the schedules you saw in coffee shops, hotels and many business establishments. Bruce Irving from Bell Media, who coordinated the radio personalities and locations, and lastly, but most certainly not least were SWAC Directors Michelle McCullough, and Kim Trops, you kept everything on track.

The locations for this year had teams of people all in their own right, and I’m looking forward to seeing all their images too. Arlene Currie Plumpton, President of the Brushstrokes Club, coordinated Dogwood Nursery, Jennifer Larose headed up The Heritage Retirement Residence with Val Thompson and the Heritage Artists, and Fiona Neal organized The West Kelowna Yacht Club. All three of these organizations are interested in continuing to pursue artist business connections, and two of them, The Heritage and Dogwood, have on site artist groups they host each week.

Melissa Brown, the first person I went to in 2014 with my crazy Westside Culture Days idea, , once again had a host of action at Westbank Blenz, from music to art to literary in the form of the Book of Secrets … which is still there by the way, go contribute! Louise Lambert coordinated Wine Country Studios, and welcome to Patricia Guest and L’Oven Farm Fresh Food to the Westside Culture Days location team! L’Oven is another business location who recognizes the value of onsite artists. Elena Doebele from the Westbank Library hosted a musical interlude, and the Paulina McChesney at Westbank Museum had their forge and saw mill running in addition to their onsite Watercolour Guild.

This year was also the first year that Peachland joined in Westside Culture Days, and it truly made so much sense as we are so intertwined. Peachland Art Gallery hosted Sunday Night Live, and it was sold out by mid September. I think I’m going to get my ticket earlier next year.

Some of the special events around town included The Butterfly Project, The Amazing Westside Race, The Short Film Showcase and the Be A Part of the Art. I was outside the SWAC Gallery, willing to take photos of people wearing their wings, and when the concept was explained, their faces lit up. That was pretty amazing to see.

I know I didn’t mention everyone who contributed here by name in this article, but I want them to know that they are valued, and we’ll likely meet in person after so I’ll thank you then.

More information on the Suk’wtemsqilxw West Kelowna Arts Council (SWAC), please talk to Melissa Brown at Westbank Blenz or you can send me an email Our website is Looking forward to connecting with you!

Julia Trops is a Westside artist and chair of Suk’wtemsqilxw West Kelowna Arts Council.

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